I will run ninety miles per week. I will scale Mount Everest, twice, naked. I will quit smoking. I will start smoking. I will lose thirty pounds. I will gain thirty pounds. I will go vegan, all-out. I will assassinate all vegans. I will give to the poor. I will try to prevent myself from becoming poor. I will be a better person, periodically. I will be a worse person, probably. I will accept Jesus. (Only to have Jesus reject me -- a first for him, and I can see it coming.) I will renounce all worldly possessions. I will buy a Ferrari. A red one. (Actually, aren't all Ferraris red?) I will do this all over again next December, near the end.
Making New Year's Resolution is a fool's game, I suppose, but we do it, some of us, and it's easy to understand why.
It's rare in life that we get a clean break, a fresh start, a way and a means to start all over again. (You could argue that we do have such opportunities, every day, at each moment, as Penelope Cruz said in Vanilla Sky, but acknowledging those exceptions is a blunt and tireless burden.)
The start of a new year, page one on the calendar, is a marker. A turning point. Traditional and banal. With us from the first day of the first new year of our lives. A chance to begin.
Most of us make resolutions; most of us break them. Or smash them, repeatedly, within the first week or so.
This year I once again have some resolutions, as I'm sure you do, too, but I've decided to keep them secret.
(Not that, um, there were a lot of people clamoring for my intentions for the next twelve months, knocking on my door, harassing me on my, well, non-existent cell phone, but still.)
Somebody once said -- it might have been Pat Sajak, or possibly Twain -- that the minute you reveal your plans, your goals, your innermost dreams, poof, up they go in smoke. There is something sacred about an idea, in your head, illuminated in bright neon for you and you alone. It has weight; it has possibility. You can twist it back and forth, up and down, stretch it from side to side, wondering if it will break.
The thing is, in your mind, it never does.
Break that is.
Or, if it does shatter, you can put the pieces back together again. Crazy-glue the mother whole and complete. Shining, even. Glistening, maybe. There is no one to knock it down again, stamp on it, kick the pieces through the sewer grate then laugh as they fall.
When your goals are revealed, however, when the light of day sunburns the hell out of everything you hold proper and true and holy, something happens. To you, and to them -- your dreams, that is.
They come face to face with the blinding sun, and they retreat into the shade, then the darkness, until they become difficult to find, if not impossible. And then you wake up, and it's February, and the snow is deep, and the air is frigid, and you remember, faintly, that you meant to do something and be something larger than you were at the end of December. If only you could locate it, that stem. If only you could bury it in the soil once again, and let the water flow, and wait for the buds to bloom. Ah, well, you say. Next year. As you smack the pillow for a better, plumper comfort.
So best to keep your dreams to yourself, I think. At least for now. At least here, at the dawning of the coming year, when hope springs, if not eternal, at least bi-weekly. Best to believe, for this moment, that all those crazy scenarios inside of your head can and will and must come to fruition.
It's winter, you see, and if you let your dreams out, into the cold, something might happen to them.
And I want your dreams to endure.
So this New Year's, as the clock counts down to twelve, as Dick Clark (or, God help us, Ryan Seacrest), shuffles out to do the inevitable glowing-bouncing-ball thingamajig, I wish for you the endurance of your intentions. I wish that your dreams remain trapped inside of your skull, where they have room to bounce around, where the ceiling has no limit, where all of your hopes can keep on rising, like one of those blue superballs we used to wield like weapons of war when we were kids. The ones you could bounce and have no idea where they would end up, so fierce and spastic were their trajectories.
When the numbers on the clock reach 12:00, I want you to take those dreams, those goals, those wishes, and unleash them, superball-style, inside of your head, the arc of their rocket-like ascent visible for you and you alone.
I want you to wait and watch and see how far that perfect blue orb of a dream will go.
And I hope, for you, in the coming year, that you never even the see the beginning of its descent.